The Making of Bharat
उत्तरम यत्समुद्रस्य, हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम।
वर्ष तद्वारातम नाम भारती सन्तति। - विष्णु पुराण
"The land which lies north of the Oceans, and on the South of the Snow-peaked Mountains, there live the descendants of Bharat, after whom the land shall be named." – Vishnu Purana
There has been an agenda in the Independent India to prove that India did not exist as an entity before the British or the Mughals landed, depending on whether the Historian owes allegiance to Madarassa or to Macaulay. There are facts and references spread out and people like us who spend large part of our non-entitled lives chasing the middle-class dream of career and life, depend on their interpretation and inference to learn our history. Once we know our History, we understand our unifying and common origin. It then becomes difficult for those wanting to draw wedge between us, to do that. It also makes them difficult to continue their intellectual hegemony over the people who have discovered their shared, historic pride. While we admit that History is all about interpretation of facts by the Historian who is writing it. Still, there is a point beyond which interpretation becomes lie and lies become propaganda.
Let us look at facts, understand them, before political thinkers posing as historians throw them out, calling them Hindutva agenda. Once they sit on the Pulpit and wag their accusing fingers at our unsure steps into the abandoned study of glorious past of our nation; we, oftentimes, humiliated, shrink to our dull, un-glamorous corners, ceding the space to them for their uninterrupted agenda. Therefore we must learn. We must learn that even when there was various kings, they all ruled almost like a federal structure under the unifying name of Sanatana. The shloka mentioned above is from Vishnu Purana. There are varied thoughts of the time when Vishnu Purana was written. Like most ancient literature of India, Puranas too passed across generations as a part of oral tradition. This makes the assessment of Chronology difficult. Also Historians lament the lack of dates and names in Indian ancient history. That is because it dates back to a time when individuals were not as important as the ideas they represented. When Swayambhu Manu, the first monarch of the Aryans divided his kingdom in Seven Parts, even as absolute rulers of their realms, they were tied into one under the same faith, practices and laws of Manu.
Let us not let this deter us. Still in various mythological works from centuries before the Christ have enough indications which can help us reconstruct the history, if we have interest and integrity to rebuild our past honestly. Considering the above references to India in Vishnu Purana, let us look at the historic timeline. British Civil Servant from the Initial days of Indian Colonization, Vincent Arthur Smith places the time of compilation of Vishnu Purana somewhere between 400 to 300 BC. The earliest date attributed to the composition of Vishnu Purana is 800 BC and the latest date seems to come from Wendy Doniger who pegs it at 450 AD. Even if we take it as Doniger's 450 AD, let us accept that it was before Prophet Mohammad and Advent of Islam. That it was composed much before RSS came into being is anyways settled. The dates further prove that this was not written with a view of creating a Hindutva view of one India from the mighty Himalayas to the Oceans in the south to counter the Muslim view, British view or Periyar view.
While the hymn above explains the expanse of India, Vishnu Purana also explains the naming of the country. We often believe it to be named after Bharat, who was son of Dushyant the Kuru king. However, that Bharat came much later in the chronology, and he ruled one of the kingdoms under BharatVarsha (Modern day equivalent to India extending way up in North and West, where Uttara Kuru and Kekeya Kingdoms came into being). I would even hazard a guess that it went beyond Persia as Vishnu Purana refers to Yavans (The Greeks) on the Western Borders and it also explains the central location of Mount Sumeru (in modern day Garhwal) in the overall expanse of Aryavrata over which Manu ruled.
Priyavrata, the son of Swayambhu Manu, assigned Jambudweep (Southern Asia) to his eldest son, Agnidhra. Agnidhra gave the area south of Himalaya, Himvarsha to the eldest son Nabhi. Rishabhdev (also the first Jain Tirthankar) ruled over Himvarsha and later chose his eldest son, Bharat as his successor. Bharat, the great king, expanded the kingdom unto the oceans. This part of land was then called Bharat Varsha (even when we had independent kingdoms in Kashi, Magadha, Anga, Kuru, Kaushala, Vaideha and Kalinga). Under the flag of Vedas, it had extended relationships to Tibet (Kimpurushvarsha- between Sumeru and Dhaval (Dhaulagiri) Mountain), Kekeya and Uttara Kuru (The son of Drum, king of Kimpurusha did attend the coronation of Yudhishtira in another ancient book of Mahabharata, also how one book from the vedic literature connects with another, authenticates the history written in these books). There is a clear consistency in description. I have verified between Rigveda, Mahabharatsa and VishnuPurana; Sir Alexander Cunningham's The Ancient Geography of India further includes Vayu Puran, Matsaya Purana, Markandaya Purana and Brahmanda Purana, each naming identical kingdoms and places and dividing India in Nine parts.
Vishu Purana mentions the naming of Bharata
ततश्च भारतम वर्षमे तल्लो केषु गीयते
भरताय यत : पित्र ा दत्तं प्रतिष्ठता वनम।
"When retiring to the Vanaprastha (Vedic practice of retiring to the pursuit of knowledge in the old age, away from the material world), Rishabh Dev, the father, annointed Bharat as his successor, so the kingdom came to be known as BharatVarsha)"
नव योजनसहस्त्र ो विस्तारोस्य महामुने
कर्मभुमिरियं स्वर्गांपवर्ग च गच्छताम।
Bharat has an expanse of 9000 Yojana, this land is the arena of all the action, and this is heaven. (1 Yojana= 9.09 Miles or 14.63 Kms).
Bharat had seven principle mountains. We have some idea of these mountains as either the name of the mountain itself or the rivers originating from them carries to this day making the inferences possible. The mountains described are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shaktiman, Riksh, Vindhya, Pariyatra. Mahendra is in the East, at Bhagalpur (in modern day Bihar). We are able to identify these mountains from the rivers originating from them. Here are the rivers mentioned in the Vishnu Purana.
वेदस्मृतिमुखाद्याश्च पारियात्रो द्ध वा।
"River Shatadru (Satluj) Chandrabhaga (Chenab) flows from the Himalaya, Periyatra Mountain (named Sanapada by Krishna, now called Western Satpura) source of Veda and Smriti...
नर्मदा सुरसाद्याश्च नद्यो विन्ध्यादिनिर्गता :
तपिपयोष्ण ी निरविन्ध्यप्रमुखा ऋक्षसंभवा :
"River Narmada and Sursa (disappeared), originates from Vindhya, Tapi and Payoshni (now Purna) emerges from Riksh (East Satpura),
गोदावरी , भीमरथी कृष्णवेण्यादिकास्तथा
सह्यपदोध्वा नद्य : स्मृता : पापभयपयहया।
"From the Sahya (Sahyadri on Western Ghats -Mahabaleshwar) Mountains arise the holy rivers of Godavari, Bhimrathi and Krishnaveni."
कृतमाला ताम्रपर्णीप्रमुखा मालयोद्वा
त्रिसामा चार्यकुल्याद्या महेन्द्रप्रभावा: स्मृता: ।
"River Kritmala (Now disappeared but traced near Madurai, Kiruthumal river, originating from Nagamalai Hills) and Tamraparni (originating from Pothigai Hills also known as Agastya Malai), Trisama (Now Tribhanga) and Aryakulya (Now Rushikulya originating from Daringbadi hills) arising from MahendraGiri (in Odisha),
This here covers the mountains of Eastern Ghat, Western Ghat and even down south at Madurai. Thus we understand the vast expanse of Bharatvarsha. Malay Parvat that we locate in the south is where Vedic sage Agastya wrote the first Tamil Grammar, at the source of river Tamraparni, where he went expanding Vedic wisdom. Agastyamalai standing between TamilNadu and Kerala, must have extended to Madurai and finds reference in Mahabharata too.
Political expediency has pushed people to manufacture history which divides us. Therefore, we need to go back to the time when the current political expediency did not exist. Let us remember once again, the India, that is one; India, That is Bharat.